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This article was written and reviewed by people in the LGBTIQA+ communities.
What is sexual identity?
Sexuality is about how you see and express yourself sexually - like who you have a crush on, who you want to go out with, and who you want to have sexual experiences with.
It's not really known why some people are 'straight' while others are gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or queer. But some researchers think that there might be things that happen in our bodies from very early in life that shapes our sexuality.
There are lots of ways that people describe their sexuality. In Australia, it's thought that up to 11% of people may not think of themselves as 'straight'.
How do I know what my sexual identity is?
- Most people know from very young who they want to have relationships with. For others, it can take until they’re adults or longer to make sense of their sexuality.
- But remember, sexuality is NOT a choice! It is different for everyone and is a natural part of who you are. Everyone has the right to feel comfortable and to be accepted for who they are.
- It’s normal to feel confused or curious about whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or queer. Lots of people also feel this way because others in their life may that think sexuality is a ‘choice’ or assume that being straight is ‘normal’.
- Just because you define your sexuality one way now, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind later. This doesn’t mean you’re ‘confused’ or ‘choosing’, it just means you’re still learning about who you are and what attractions and relationships feel right to you.
- Your sexuality can be the same all your life or you might define yourself differently as you learn more about yourself.
Does questioning my sexuality mean I’m…?
Understanding yourself takes time, so it’s normal to have times where you feel unsure about your sexuality. But keep in mind:
- Having a crush, sexual thoughts, or experimenting with someone who is a different sex or gender to people you’re usually attracted to - doesn’t automatically mean you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer.
- You don’t have to be dating or have a sexual experience with someone to know you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer. You might be doing these things and still not feel sure about your sexuality.
- You may not have any sexual interest in anyone. This is normal too.
For some people, realising they’re attracted to someone of the same sex or gender can be a confronting, confusing and emotionally difficult. These feelings are usually because of fears and worries that the crushes or relationships they have won’t be accepted by the people around them.
For most people, understanding their sexuality and being themselves is usually relieving, freeing and exciting!
Everyone has the right to be themselves without needing to explain this to anyone. Feeling pressure to hide who you are can feel really stressful and affect our mental and physical wellbeing over time.
What can I DO to help me make sense of my sexual identity?
If you’re looking for ideas to help you make sense of your sexuality:
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